Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti Medical Relief team-the last few days

From where I sit the reflections seem so distant yet the memories are firmly cemented in the recesses of my brain. The reflections of the children, the ones with the amputated arms and legs, the adults with the same, the large lacerations, the crushing injuries, the blank look on the faces of those we served, and the destruction of the buildings, the homes, the roads, and lives, fade quickly. They are reflections after all. But the images, the memories, remain forever. And so do the stories.

He is ten years old. As I dressed his amputated left arm, he winced only once, and turned his head away afraid to show emotion. He had lain under the rubble of his house for 3 days with his mother laying on his shattered left arm. He said she died there on the second day. I bandaged his arm, hugged him and watched as he walked away cared for by a neighbor. His father and 2 siblings had yet to be found. No tears, no emotion.

A 24 day old baby that we had cared for the day before, came back. His mother said that she couldn't care for him and asked us to look after him. We found an orphanage and he is there. The mother came back the next day and just followed us around. Her first child. A decision she has yet to come to grips with.

We arrived at a local hospital that was destroyed by the quake. The only thing standing was the outpatient clinic. The courtyard and the rubble was filled with patients and family who were living under tarps, sheets, and waiting for help. 7 days after the quake, there had not been any food or emergency medical care. 2 young Haitian doctors and a few nurses had spent the days after doing the best they could with the little they had. We set up a make shift clinic and saw over 300 patients in 5 hours. The hospital had a sign that identified it as a public hospital. The sign had "Food for the poor" on it as well. Think what you will.

The homes and buildings that had been destroyed right next to our field site in Carrefour, were being cleared of rubble. The smell of those who were still in there was strong. I watched as the large bucket of the bulldozer, lifted up tons of concrete and saw the flutter of the corner of a dress. I turned away, not wanting to see what may be next.

And on this last day, we had some time to play with some children, singing, dancing and sharing the crackers and cookies that we had brought with us. They smiled, laughed and danced. But a few days ago, they had been frightened and wondering. And tonight they will sleep in the street again, afraid to sleep indoors. It was refreshing to see that for a moment, an hour, the children forgot the events of the past few days, and became children again.

I often ask the questions and wait for the answers to come to me. I sat with many victims of the quake this week and heard them ask the questions as well. They told me that they would wait for the answers to why this happened and what will become of them. I look to the answers as well. To try and understand or to at least begin to accept that there may never be an answer. I can only wish that the hearts of those who lived this, of those who lost whole families, will someday find understanding in their own way and live a life that is rich in love and grace. We came here to find a way to help, and in small way, a very small way, felt that we did. Maybe it was simply the show of love and grace that we brought. No more, no less. We were privileged to be able to do so.

In all things give thanks,